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Bill Loguidice's picture

More on Avalon Hill Computer Games on Heath/Zenith platforms

I had some time to further test Telengard (which I discussed here the other day), B-1 Nuclear Bomber, Computer Football Strategy, and Computer Stocks & Bonds, which, as far as I can tell, and seems to be confirmed by the "Heath/Zenith Games" insert included with all of these boxed games, were the only H-8 H/Z-89 Z-90 H/Z-100 ports from Avalon Hill. As was stated, these games require CP/M-85 and MBASIC to work on my Z-100, which is an all-in-one model. They're all single density disks. All of the games worked, and I was able to make backups of each, though some disks did have errors, which as far as I can tell did not affect running the games or were necessarily present in the copies. It probably helps that these were more or less one or two program BASIC files.

One thing I should point out is that Avalon Hill games are notorious for having catalogs and manuals with staples that become rusty, even when the box is sealed. That was present in my sealed copies. I put any of the documentation with rusty staples in their own zip loc bags for safety, so hopefully that will solve that particular issue going forward.

Of the four games, the only game with multi-platform instructions that specifically mentioned and included the Heath/Zenith platform(s) was Computer Stocks and Bonds, otherwise, every other game just included the aforementioned insert, with the previously mentioned incorrect instructions for running Telengard. So, outside of Computer Stocks & Bonds, you basically had to use the generic instructions for keyboard commands and otherwise wing it.

On a side note, Avalon Hill specialized in supporting many, many platforms with single games right up to the mid-80s through a combination of games written in BASIC and the use of cassette tapes, the former making ports easy and the latter allowing multi-platforms on each side of the tape (six or more platforms on one tape was not uncommon). Naturally, with a disk, at best you could have two formats, one on each side, but all of these Heath/Zenith-based games just had the one platform. In looking at the instructions for B-1 Nuclear Bomber, which again, didn't even mention the Heath/Zenith version it was included with, the game was on Atari 8-bit, Apple II, C-64, TI-99/4 and 4a, TRS-80 Model I/III, IBM PC, and Timex/Sinclair (oddly enough, no PET or Vic-20, which were two Avalon Hill favorites). Every version was assumed on the same tape except for the IBM PC version, which mentioned being on a disk.

The Heath/Zenith versions of these games are mostly unremarkable, with rudimentary text-based graphics, with the occasional line or symbols that vaguely represented what they were intended to be. Crude, but functional, and again, the only CP/M support that I know of that Avalon Hill ever directly provided.

Here are some rough photos of the screens for each of the games just to give you an idea of what I'm talking about:

Bill Loguidice's picture

Unfortunate Situation with the Heath/Zenith Z-100

Well, I FINALLY got around to setting up my Z-100 and going through all of the stuff, primarily in the interest of getting used to the general operation and then playing the games.

Opened up:
Heath/Zenith Z-100 opened up
Heath/Zenith Z-100 closed up

Unfortunately, after plugging it in, it briefly made a noise as if powering up, and then nothing after that. I attempted to open it up and either remove or bypass the power supply (since I have spares of various vintage), but it's really a tight case and screwed in in a configuration that is not particularly easy to tamper with. I gave up. When I mentioned this a little while ago on the SEBHC mailing list group, it was suggested that I check the power supply voltages. If they checked out, that would not be the cause of the issue(s). Naturally, I don't really know how I'd do that. I think one of the things I have to move on my to do list somehow is learning basic electronics if I'm to maintain the type of overall collection I have at present...

I guess I'll either look for an opportunity in the future to re-open it again, preferably with someone more experienced at my side, or just wait for another unit to eventually pop up for a reasonable price on eBay, then sell this one. Of course, I seem to have the worst luck with anything Heathkit (save for the Hero Jr. robot of all things, which works well for me), so I may give up on my whole Heathkit collection at some point down the line. With that said, I have some items that I really like in the Z-100 portion of my collection (particularly since my focus is primarily on games), so I'd really love to make use of them. Here's a very casual inventory I just did, which should be pretty much everything:

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